Exclusive: B/R Speaks to Sir Trevor Brooking About Finest Wembley Memories

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Exclusive: B/R Speaks to Sir Trevor Brooking About Finest Wembley Memories

On Saturday, April 27, the city of London helped commemorate Wembley's 90th birthday, and Sir Trevor Brooking was on hand to help.

The event saw the FA Cup travel from the site of the first-ever final—The Kennington Oval—through London and and delivered to the state-of-the-art stadium ready for the showpiece on May 11.

Many who have graced the famous turf never forget their moment in the limelight, while those fans who are lucky enough to experience the atmosphere of a pivotal game or final will never forget their day out.

I caught up with Sir Trevor at the Oval, and he remarked upon some of his best memories as a player and fan of both England and West Ham at Wembley. You'd be hard pushed to find anyone who's had some many wonderful days in the stadium.

"I played in the 1975 and 1980 FA Cup finals, and to win both was fantastic, so I do have very fond memories indeed," Brooking said.

"The 1975 edition was special because it was my first experience of a cup final, but it was also quite weird [in that] we were playing Fulham where Bobby More was. I knew him from his time as a player at West Ham, and he was an iconic figure at the club.

"To suddenly have him playing for the opposition and going up against him was odd. We won 2-0, though, and the young lad Alan Taylor scored a couple of goals and that was great for him.

"Five years later, after being relegated, we were understandably the underdogs against Arsenal, but we scored in the first half, and it was quite unusual for me to bag a header—everyone reminds me about strike, but most also make it clear a header was a real rarity for me.

"It's 30 years on now, but not a week goes by without somebody talking about it.

"You simply don't realise, as an individual, how big [these moments] are going to be in your life as such. 

"As a young player (and fan), [I saw] West Ham win the FA Cup in 1964, the Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 and then the England team beat West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 FIFA World Cup final—I went to the semifinal myself but couldn't get a ticket for the showpiece event.

"In the stadium's histories there have been so many dramas, with Sunderland winning (1973), Wimbledon winning (1988) and Keith Houchen's winner for Coventry (1997) in particular standing out. The old Wembley hosted so many games that were memorable, and I'm sure the new Wembley will create its own history with individual fixtures ahead."

When asked to pick out his true favourite memory, the answer came quite easily to him.

"My favourite moment? There's a lot of fond memories, but it would have to be the header," Brooking said. "To score the winner in an FA Cup final is absolutely fantastic, and the other one that comes close is my first England goal when we beat Italy at Wembley, 2-0.

"I had a really good game that night, and I scored, we pummeled Italy, could have won four five goals to nil, but unfortunately we didn't qualify due to goal difference.

"That's one England game and one West Ham game to cherish."

Working in a close capacity with the FA and with Wembley has helped Sir Trevor stay in touch with those memories on a weekly basis, and the former No. 10 protects the brand of the final by continuing to laud the magic of the cup.

"You fight the corner of the FA Cup, and sometimes it can be looked at as a less-significant trophy than it was in my generation, but I think it's coming back now," Brooking said.

"A lot of sides play their strongest teams, and when you finish your career, it's fantastic to look back at it—especially if you've won something.

"Managers, coaches and players all want to finish [their careers] having won something, and you never know if or when you're going to win a trophy. If you're a big club, you think it's going to be a regular occurrence but as we're finding out now—in cases such as Manchester United—that it can be quite a while, and it's hurting them.

"It's a wonderful setting, and if you're there as a fan and your team wins, it stays with you for the rest of your life."

Sir Trevor Brooking was speaking at the start of the FA Cup's incredible journey across London to its new home: Wembley Stadium.

 

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